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Iran has said its Revolutionary Guard had shot down a U.S. drone flying over Iranian territory, days after the U.S. accused Iran of shooting down a drone that was flying to the Gulf of Oman following reports of attacks on two tankers.
This is the latest step in a dance of escalation between the United States and Iran that started gathering pace in late May, after four tankers were allegedly attacked off the coast of the UAE. The U.S. blamed Iran for that attack and Iran denied involvement. An investigation by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Norway concluded the party behind the attack was “a state actor” which remained unnamed.
Then came another attack, on two tankers this time, in the Gulf of Oman. Once again, the U.S. placed the blame on Iran, releasing video and images that the Pentagon claimed showed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in implicating action. Iran has once again denied the accusations.
While the incidents and the heightened tension between Washington and Tehran failed to have much of an effect on oil prices, this could change. Since these happened near the world’s most important oil flow chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, they could have a lasting impact on the price of oil as ship owners, marine brokers, insurers, and reinsurers are already lifting premiums for insuring tankers passing through the region and are charging higher freight rates for shipping oil out of the Middle East.
In the meantime, President Trump surprisingly downplayed the significance of the latest tanker attacks calling it “minor”. However, he said in an interview with Time, the U.S. will be sending more troops to the Middle East, adding that if Iran began to enrich uranium, a military confrontation would be a possibility.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.